Innovations in physician practice management have taken major strides in the last decade or so. The digital ecosystem of patient management for physicians has been growing and evolving rapidly. Practice management software addresses physicians’ common complaints of spending more time on EHR data entry than with patients by helping them every step of the way.
Digital offerings enhance patient care and address the three-pronged goals of any practice – reduced costs, better patient experiences and improved working conditions for support staff. Some digital offerings include cloud-based apps, augmented and artificial intelligence and data analytics all in one dashboard. They take care of managing the practice every step of the way, starting from scheduling to billing to records management. As a result, patient satisfaction goes up, and the patient-practice relationship improves.
Let’s take a few minutes to appreciate some of the most important innovations in physician practice management.
Patient portals are probably one of the most useful tools available to physicians today. As one of the core features of many physician practice management systems, they’re one of the biggest reasons that patient satisfaction is on the rise.
Access to information
Patient portals give patients access to most or all of their personal health records (PHRs) that their primary care practices have. If a patient wants to check what they discussed and the medicines prescribed during their last appointment, they don’t need to call the practice. Instead, they can simply log in and check their records. This ease of access helps fulfill the triple focus of lowered costs, increased access and improved care quality for the practice.
E-Visits and Telehealth
Patients can ask questions via the portal and save time without making an appointment or spending time on the phone. To book an appointment, they can use built-in scheduling software. This is not only easier for the patients, but it also saves the staff time, since they don’t have to answer the phone or do any manual scheduling.
Increases Patient Engagement
Patient portals help patients understand all aspects of their care, including medical charges, creating an ecosystem of trust. Patients are likely to visit more often, pay their bills on time and comply with treatment plans thanks to patient portals.
Many practice management solutions have features that allow patients to check-in virtually for appointments and care, reducing wait times. Methods for improving the waiting room experience for patients are often included in many physician practice solutions. Shorter wait times help reduce the number of no-shows and increase patient satisfaction.
Many portals also allow referrals to other physicians. This allows for reduced patient leakage and better communication between physicians and patients.
Financial management is critical for medical practices because it manages your revenue streams and expenses. Managing money, both coming in and going out, is vital to the success of any practice. A physician practice management system helps take care of financials at every stage of the practice.
Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding are more than just sending an invoice to your patients. Firstly, all of the services provided and equipment used during an appointment must be coded in the system. Secondly, insurance must be verified, and a claim must be submitted. Finally, the practice must track claims to ensure timely payment of the amount due. Physician practice software can handle all of this. Most of the leading vendors can verify insurance automatically, and send a claim right after an appointment finishes. Additionally, the systems track each claim, notifying you if certain bills haven’t been paid on time.
Revenue Cycle Management
The revenue cycle management process can be long and complex. To manage it properly, a solid process to ensure payment for every bill must be in place. But who in the healthcare industry has the time to follow up again and again for payments? Nobody, that’s who. Physician practice management can manage the whole process efficiently, freeing up staff time.
Payment Plan Options
Often, a practice management system includes payment plan options for those who are unable to pay upfront for their treatment. They also provide detailed expense statements that help make patients more likely to make payments on time.
Most categories of software work best when they integrate with other systems. Physician practice management is no different.
EHR and EMR
From a medical standpoint, integration with electronic health records (EHR) or an electronic medical records (EMR) system is a powerful asset. These integrations allow all of the medical practice’s most important data, both medical and administrative, to coexist. For example, you can more easily check a patient’s diagnosis and prescription information and compare it to a bill you sent out. This accessibility makes managing patient information both easier and cheaper.
CRM and ERP
From a non-medical standpoint, several other integrations that are quite useful. Integrating physician practice management with customer relationship management (CRM) software helps the practice market to its patients with more relevant messaging. Integrating with an ERP keeps all the data centralized and secure.
Integrating with business intelligence (BI) software allows you to perform data analysis that can lead to improvements in day-to-day operations. Many types of reports can be created, giving you a bird’s eye view of the health of the practice.
The Cloud and Mobile Access
The introduction of cloud-to-physician practice management software opened up a plethora of new possibilities. For example, the patient portal that we discussed earlier would not have been possible without the cloud. Without cloud technology, the only way patients would be able to digitally access their data would be if they were on the same local network as their primary care provider, defeating the purpose of a self-service patient portal. The recent addition of apps and mobile access has helped all kinds of practices improve patient care. Mobile access has also considerably improved recording and managing data.
Before the addition of mobile access, many physicians and their staff would take paper notes because they didn’t want to lug a laptop around. Nowadays, with mobile phones and tablets, physicians and other medical practice employees are much more inclined to bring them along wherever they go.
Stronger Online Presence
Social media awareness is a recent addition to practice management software. With the rise of the internet and users turning to it for reviews before visiting a practice/physician, it has become important for medical practices to maintain a positive online presence. Practice Management software offers services to manage the practice’s social media presence and website, which eventually impacts the practice’s revenue.
Most practice management software has powerful analytics dashboards, which make it easy to look at all the aspects of the business and identify areas of improvement. They help simplify the decision-making process for management by providing actionable data. They can track the number of patients seen, the amount paid by patients on average, pathological tests done, and more. They also include claims data, tools and analytics that help streamline the physician’s workflow.
Wearable technology and remote patient monitoring are gaining popularity because they enable patients to care for themselves at home, with the right education and tools of course. They can collect the patient’s vital biometric data that can be used later to personalize treatment and create alerts. These customized treatments will eventually keep patients away from hospitals, helping those with chronic ailments develop healthy lifestyle choices. Patients with asthma, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease stand to benefit the most.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The use of artificial intelligence in health systems improves image analysis, decision support and patient triage. Cognitive computing technologies, which learn from prior interactions, support doctors in making better decisions, spur the image analysis process and lower the chances of physician burnout.
Chatbots simulate conversations with the patients, meeting the need for communication, quick response and better outcomes. Patients can schedule appointments, pay bills and get medicine refills through these AI assistants. They also deliver pathological lab results and recommend next steps. Patients feel like they are talking to a human, improving their experience.
AI can help identify patterns, help physicians identify the right diagnosis and sort through data. They are not meant to replace a real doctor, but to help them provide better care and save time.
As we look to the future, there will no doubt be several more innovations that’ll make plenty of healthcare jobs easier. More processes will be automated, and practices will run smoother than ever. The most important thing, however, is that patient care continues to improve along with it. The more innovations that come to physician practice management, the more time is freed up for physicians to take care of their patients. At its core, that’s what the healthcare industry is all about, isn’t it? That being said, as the ecosystem evolves, the challenges of navigating solutions for issues such as privacy and security, clinical efficacy, interoperability and usability will also come up. Only time will tell how software and medical practices rise up to the challenge.
How have recent innovations in physician practice management helped you focus more on patient care? Let us know with a comment below!